The sprouting of informal schools in slums in towns is due to lack of public institutions, a senior Ministry of Education official has said.
Ms Dorothy Ogega told a forum in Nairobi on alternative provision for basic education and training (APBET) that urban informal settlements demand for schooling has outstripped supply for lack of public schools in those areas.
“For example in Korogocho, two public schools registered 2,386, in Mathare enrolment reached 3,100 in three schools while in Kibera three public schools enrolled a total of 6,606 pupils,” said Ms Ogega.
She went on: “The unprecedented enrolments made the ministry to ease registration regulations and allowed for wide stakeholder participation in the provision of primary education in certain in-formal settlements.”
The government launched Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003. This led to 1.3 million additional children being enrolled in public primary schools in that year alone.
United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) report released in December last year revealed that six out of 10 children who are out of school in Kenya come from poor families.
The report 'Out of School Children Situation in Kenya’ indicated that a total of 852,000 children aged between 6 and 17 years were still out of school.
Ms Ogega added that the expansion of informal schools in slum areas has seen the increase in enrolment from 5, 7 85 in 59 schools in 2004 to 134,344 in 432 schools last year.
“The overall objective of the investment programme is to increase equitable access to quality basic education for children and youth who, due to special circumstance, are unable to join formal schools,” she said.
Ms Ogega identified inadequate allocation of funds to the sub-sector by the ministry of Education, uncoordinated large number of service providers and weak governance and management of the schools/institutions as some of the challenges facing the informal schools.
Two members of education committee in the National Assembly — Richard Tongi and Joseph Meruaki — asked the government to support setting up of more schools to address the congestion problem in slum areas.
“We need to introduce private-public partnerships in education to strengthen quality. We should amend laws to allow use of CDF to address funding gaps,” said Mr Tongi.
He observed that boards of management governance in informal schools are weak as members have their own interests and not those of the children.
“This is a challenge to all policy makers. Kenya has good legislation but weak implementation. After all these years of independence, we know that there is enough money to make a difference in education for children from slums,” said Mr Meruaki.
Last year, the government released guidelines on the operation of informal schools which require them to adhere to syllabus developed by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) as well as timetable guidelines for subjects and courses as provided by the ministry.
The guidelines also require that all teachers in informal schools should meet the minimum entry requirements in terms of training for the level they will be teaching.
According to the guidelines, a minimum 30 per cent of the teachers at an institution of APBET shall have obtained a relevant teacher-training certificate from a recognised institution at registration.
“The rest must be undertaking recognised in-service training and management of the institution shall progressively ensure that all their teachers are registered with the TSC by the third year of registration of the institution,” the guideline outlines.